A Vietnam veteran reportedly filed a class-action lawsuit on Monday looking to force the Department of Veteran Affairs to fast-track a massive backlog of benefits claims appeals.
According to The New York Times, the case by lead plaintiff Conley Monk Jr. is the first class-action suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The claims in question include his own.
The veteran has waited years for disability benefits from the VA for claims of post-traumatic stress disorder and exposure to toxic chemicals. Monk is a Marine Corps veteran from Connecticut who said he came under fire during the Vietnam War and was exposed to the herbicide and defoliant Agent Orange -- used by the United States military during the war and sometimes associated with PTSD and diabetes, which Monk was diagnosed with in 2011.
Monk reportedly applied for disability from the VA, and was denied. He appealed in 2013.
“It’s frustrating to be stuck in limbo,” Monk, 66, told the New York Times. “It’s been hard to make ends meet. And we Vietnam veterans are getting older. We can’t wait forever.”
The high number of benefits claims at the VA began rising in 2009, driven by claims from veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. It peaked in 2013 with more than 600,000 claims, according to the Times.